Kennewick alpaca farm open for summer tours
KENNEWICK, Wash. – “I took one look and said, ‘well, those big brown eyes have to be in my future,” Co-Owner of Sandollar Farms Alpacas and Pyrs in Kennewick, Nikki Griffith said.
She’s talking about the Suri breed of Alpacas that captured her heart at a show years ago in Arizona.
In 2007, Nikki and her husband Collins relocated from Arizona to Kennewick with their small herd to start Sandollar Farms.
“One thing about developing a farm or a process like this is you’re always making changes and you don’t ever do it right the first time,” Collins, who has an agricultural background, said.
“It’s taken about 15 years to get it to this particular state,” Nikki said.
Their home and farm sits on three and a half acres in east Kennewick. The couple said it used to be a small cattle ranch, but they tore everything down and started from scratch to build their dream.
They started with an alpaca fleece store in downtown Kennewick, but eventually decided they needed to open up the farm to the public.
“It’s just been so much fun. We started an Airbnb a couple of years ago and we find that we get so many visitors that are just dying to visit an alpaca farm,” Nikki said.
“It’s amazing how many people there are don’t – haven’t had that experience and how many opportunities we’re giving people,” Collins said about their farm tours.
While alpacas may be the focus, Collins also trains white doves, they have an orchard, garden, honeybee hive and, the couple breeds Great Pyrenees dogs. They’re said to be the best breed to protect alpaca herds.
“Almost stay too busy,” Collins said.
There’s also the Fuzzy Wuzzy Boutique, where the alpaca fleece ends up.
Nikki said they shear the alpacas in May, collect their fleece, pick out the most valuable parts then send it to the mill for processing. On site, they sell yarn, batting, felt and other goods made from their alpaca’s fleece.
“The Suri fleece is highly prized because it is so lustrous. Most alpaca fleeces today are quite a bit softer than cashmere,” she explained.
The boutique also houses Collins’ workshop, where he weaves and works with leather.
Clearly, this isn’t your average couple, and when asked if they’d rather be doing anything else, their answer was no.
“Oh this is my paradise, and my husband created all of this, he’s an amazing, amazing person who knows so much about ag and about animals and about pastures and environments,” Nikki said.
“It’s not quite retired yet I guess,” Collins added.
The farm is open for public tours, you can schedule one here. Sandollar also hosts educational classes where anyone can learn how to care for alpacas and what their fiber can be used for.
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